7/19/24 – Melinda Perez. with Aegon Transamerica Foundation, presents Community Garden Kitchen with a generous donation. “The Aegon Transamerica Foundation approach focuses on financial and social empowerment to make our communities more inclusive, so that people in them can live longer, more fulfilling lives. ” Thank you for supporting the effort to end food insecurity.

7/19/24 – The wonderful ladies with Chicago Title made weekend sack lunches for our guests to take home on Thursday night. We appreciate their dedication to making life better for the community.

7/18/24 –

A great team from Prestige Maintenance USA brought loads of food for the CCG Sack Lunch program. They made 100 lunches for day laborers in McKinney. We are so grateful for these amazing people who care so much about their community.

7/17/24 CGK WINS THE 2024 TEXAS RESTAURANT COMMUNITY IMPACT AWARD!

The Texas Restaurant Association Awards Ceremony was spectacular! The TRA team did an amazing job bringing together the restaurants and vendors from all over the state. Community Garden Kitchen received the 2024 Community Impact Award presented by Ecolab. This award recognizes all the volunteers who make CGK such a wonderful place. Thanks to everyone involved to make this happen.

7/11/24

7/7/24 – Tickets are on sale for our 2nd Annual “Making Arrangements” event this August.

 

 

6/26/24 – We are ramping up for the “Making Arrangements” floral class.  Tickets will go on sale July 6th.

6/22/24 –

6/1/24 – Picnic in the Garden Volunteer Appreciation Lunch was a blast, even with the downpour of rain.  RBFCU sponsored the event and Credit Union of Texas supplied a great lunch.  Thanks to board member Julie Smith and volunteers  for organizing the day.  And a standing salute to all the volunteers who helped throughout the year.  We couldn’t do this without you.

5/30/24 – This will be the last meal served for the month of May.  In spite of the rain, our volunteers have shown up to prepare a wonderful meal for our guests.

5/29/24 – We are so grateful to the employees of Nebraska Furniture Mart for choosing CGK as their charity to support.  The employees pooled their money together and generously donated to help end food insecurity in our community.

 

5/23/24 – The Town of Fairview just featured CGK in their June ’24 newletter.  We appreciate the recognition and spreading the word about our mission to end food insecurity in our community.  Check it out: https://fairviewtexas.org/Documents/June-2024—Fairview-Town-News.pdf

5/21/24 – Check out our latest news article in the McKinney Courier Gazette.

5/8/24 – The CGK Casino Night presented by H-E-B was a smashing success.  Thanks to all our sponsors, contributors and volunteers who made it all possible.  Everyone really did “Go All In to End Hunger!”

5/1/24 – HAPPY MAY DAY!  Journalist Tara Roberts posted a wonderful article about CGK.

SEE THE STORY AT:  https://ccmgatx.org/resources/articles/article-repository/2024/may/serving-the-collin-county-community-one-meal-at-a-time/

4/29/24 – The Raffle Baskets for CGK Casino Night- over 20 of them – are looking great, filled with all kinds of wonderful things.  Only 5 days left and the event is looking like it’s going to be one seriously fun night.

4/24/24 – Thanks to the Collin College Video department and instructor Lee Sharpiro and students for coming to CGK to complete their semester video assignment.  Can’t wait to see the finished product!

4/22/24 – The CGK Casino Night sponsored by H-E-B is going to a fantastic event.  We have 20+ raffle baskets filled with all kinds of delights, there will be roulette, crap & blackjack table and Slot Machines!  This is our first big event this year and our first Casino Night.  Hopefully we will have this as our main event every year.

It’s spring! The Globe Life Garden at the Kitchen is springing into life with the help of some awesome volunteers.  Whether you have a green thumb or are new to gardening and want to learn how to plant, grow and harvest, please sign up to volunteer.  The food we grow in the garden goes right into the kitchen when it is perfectly ripe to add to our meals for our guests.  We also grow beautiful flowers to place on our dining tables for our guests to enjoy.

 

4/3/24

Mayor Henry Lessner, and the city council of the Town of Fairview, proclaimed April 2, 2024 Community Garden Kitchen day at the Tuesday night city council meeting. Community Garden Kitchen President, Angela Poen thanked the council for recognizing the tremendous effort that is being accomplished by volunteers and staff to eliminate food insecurity in Collin County.

3/27/24

3/27/24 – This is a note we received from a diner:

I was recommended this place from a client at work and was hopeful it would be good. Well God bless the lady that did that but this place was the best place we have been to! When we are hungry and have no way of stretching our food they are always there to feed the community. The food is very good and the staff are top notch! 5 stars easily! We need more places like this!

Here’s some of the amazing volunteers that cheerfully prepare the meals for our guest.  We couldn’t do our mission without their generous spirits!

3/26/24 – Please support Empty Bowls this year.  CGK is one of the charities chosen to be a beneficiary.  We are very grateful for all the effort and support the many volunteers have donated to make this event amazing!  Sign up to be a volunteer and have a really fun night!

3/26/24 – Our amazing kitchen manager, Katrinka Clark, created a delicious dinner for CGK guest.  She is planning meals, overseeing volunteers prepping for dinner and making sure everything is running beautifully in the kitchen while Chef Jenny is on vacation.  Katrinka also serves as the CGK board secretary and is one of the founding members who committed to building our dining facility.  She has a passion for food and recipes and making sure no one goes hungry.  She is an amazing volunteer and we are so grateful for her contribution to ending food insecurity.

3-24-24  – A blogger I met several months ago contacted me yesterday about submitting a blog on the Chase Oaks Church website.  He interviewed me and several guest one who happens to be a veteran.  He got some great remarks from our guests.  Here’s the blog:

“How many in your party?” the hostess with bright eyes and a big smile asked the young mother.

“Do you have room for 16?” came a tentative response.

“Absolutely! Give us a few minutes to set your table.” 

Servers snapped cloths across three tables followed by a flurry of forks and knives, water glasses and bread baskets. The well rehearsed big party set up hardly drew a second glance from the kitchen.

“Put more steak on this toast, a little more cheese on that one, finish it off with wedge potatoes, and garnish it with a cherry tomato. No one leaves hungry.” the chef called out to her sous chefs.

Mouth watering scents drifted from the kitchen and filled the restaurant. 

     “I wish I had more room, I’d have another dinner,” one diner said, patting his belly after a chocolate cake dessert. 

“Come back and see us tomorrow night, we’ll save you a table,”the hostess told him. She gave a wave and watched the customer stroll out…without paying his tab. That’s to be expected at Community Garden Kitchen in Mckinney. 

     “Everyone eats for free, no questions asked,” said Angela Poen, President and CEO of Community Garden Kitchen.

     Since 2022, Community Garden Kitchen has served more than 50,000 meals, most of them to folks in distress. 

     Aside from providing free, healthy meals, Poen says the restaurant has a mission. “This is about dining with dignity. We want guests to have a true restaurant experience. Some places require you to fill out paperwork before you eat. We don’t do that. If you walked into Chilis, you wouldn’t be asked to fill out paperwork. We want our guests to feel like they’ve gone out to dinner.”

     The idea for the restaurant came to Angela during a breakfast bible study. Two school principals were part of the group and they were talking about kids coming to school with empty bellies.

     “We thought it might be about 150 kids,” Angela recalls. “The principals told us 8000 kids in McKinney are food insecure.” They might get a meal at home. They might not.

     As Angela dug into the problem she was floored by the numbers.

     “In Collin County 48,000 kids are food insecure, add their families and that’s the size of a town. Can you imagine a town where everybody is hungry?”

     Angela and the Bible study crew decided to help change that. They launched an exhaustive search. Where could the restaurant be built, who would build it, where would the money come from, where would the food come from, who would run it?

     The Episcopal Church of Dallas stepped in and provided the property, a capital campaign raised more than a million dollars, builders were contracted, suppliers from grocery stores to bakeries were lined up to provide food for free. A professional chef from McKinney was ready to jump in and run the kitchen.

It was all moving forward beautifully. 

     Then COVID hit. The project was paralyzed. What should have taken six months took 19 months to complete. While construction and the usual headaches that come with it inched along, Poen had plenty of other things keeping her mind occupied.

     We didn’t know what our food costs we’re going to be, we didn’t know if we could get volunteers, we didn’t know if the used equipment we had was going to hold up,” she recalls. But constant prayers and plenty of legwork made things happen. “We have a volunteer waiting list now,” she says with more than a hint of amazement.

     When it’s planting season, the volunteers grow vegetables and herbs in the garden out back. The bigger food items come from four different grocery stores. What they get tends to be a daily surprise since this is usually food that needs to move off store shelves. One day they may get ham steaks. Another, it may be racks and racks of bread and desserts but no protein, which has to be bought.  Donations have been taking care of that.  “The Lord has come through,” Poen says.

     Jeffrey, one of the Kitchen’s regulars, is also grateful for the Almighty’s intervention. Jeffrey is a tough as boot leather Vietnam Veteran who’s more than happy to give an opinion or two. “I traveled the world training our allies how to fly our F-14s. I’ve trained hundreds of pilots,” he said.  Raising an eyebrow he decided to give a little context.  “Have you seen the new Top Gun movie? That mission was bogus. The way he was training them was good.”

Jeffrey, doesn’t hold back when he’s talking about Community Garden Kitchen either. 

     “I’ve never had a bad meal here, they use a professional chef and it tastes like it,” he says. “It’s better than any restaurant in McKinney.” 

His only complaints? “Well, sometimes the portions are small and I wish they were open five days a week.”

He’s quick to point out he’s not here just for the food.  

 “You’ll see some of the same faces when you’re here and the volunteers make me feel at home when I come in.”

His dining partner on this night is Jennifer. Times are financially tight now for her and her family and Community Kitchen is a highlight in an otherwise rough week.

     “There hasn’t been a single time I haven’t felt welcome. No matter who you are, your age, what color you are, what your financial situation is, you’re always welcome,” she says.  “You feel it in your heart. It’s like when you go to church and your church family welcomes you.”

Angela says she sees a change in the folks who come. Part of it is providing that balanced meal and seeing customers start looking physically healthier. But she sees an emotional effect as well. “I think a big part of it is their spirits have been healed knowing they can come here. We’re the friendly neighborhood cafe, a family, and they’re welcome here!”

3/22/24 – The Jersey Pie Catering Company donated 60 handcrafted pizzas to CGK last night.  They make their own crust (really, really great) use only the best ingredients and create the most delicious pizza I’ve ever had.  We had a packed house because our guest have been treated to this pizza a couple of times.  Jack Wimmer and Frank Salvoni delivered, baked and sliced cheese, pepperoni and margarita pies for everyone to enjoy.  We are so blessed to have amazing contributors like Jersey Pie Catering supporting us!

3/20/24 – You won’t want to miss this fun fundraising event to end hunger in our community.  Purchase your tickets or reserve a table at: https://bit.ly/3u7SH1r

3/19/24 – A LETTER FROM A DINER

To All at the Community Kitchen,

This has been such a blessing to find this place.  As I sit here and eat this delicious meal, I can’t help but give thanks to the chef and to everyone involved from the greeters to the servers, to those that clean up after us and those that meet the needs of everyone that walks through your doors.

You are doing the Lord’s work in serving your community and I really appreciate those that put all of the planning and preparation into a place like this. What an awesome thing to celebrate!

I watch families come in and sit together, friends sharing a meal and I see the homeless in our city have a place that is inviting and a relief from the elements (heat for now). They get to be treated with the respect as any other neighbor & they get to share stories and laughs with others. This is a place that I would like to be a part of and volunteer to give back.  Thank you all so much and may God bless you and this ministry!

3/17/24 – HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

3/16/24 – What a fantastic surprise yesterday from Rotary McKinney Club!  My friend Carol Ownby, invited me to join her for lunch with the Rotary Club and didn’t tell me CGK was going to receive a contribution.  Rotary has kindly and generously supported CGK in the past. This $2,500 donation will help cover part of the cost for security at the kitchen in the evenings.  We are very grateful for Rotary’s continued support!   posted by: Angela Poen

3/15/24 – Garden Director, Julie B. took this photo yesterday of Crimson Clover growing in one of the raised beds in the Globe Life Garden at the Kitchen.  These plants add nitrogen to the soil, enriching it for the food plants that will soon be planted.  Interested in gardening?  Join an amazing group of volunteers that are making the garden a place of beauty.  Last year, in spite of the heat and drought, the volunteers harvested 1,200 lbs. of food from the garden beds.  Picked and cooked the same day – I guess that makes us a farm to table restaurant.  Check out our volunteer opportunities on our website and sign up to play in the dirt

3/14/24 – The following is a note from a volunteer:

The CGK is a wonderful place to go serve!  It is something my wife and I do every week.  Granted I serve mainly in the back doing dishes and keeping the area clean but I know that I am contributing to a larger amazing team each evening I serve there knowing that there are people who are being blessed with a hot meal and a time where they can just sit down, relax and let someone love on them for a little while.  Of course getting to see it all unfold as I look out into the dining room and see smiles, hear laughter, and sometimes singing just warms my heart.  It is as if these folks all just came over to my house and I am getting to serve them all.  The other great thing is to meet and serve alongside other people. We enjoy great camaraderie and lively conversation all the while teaming up to provide a great service to our community.  Who wouldn’t want that?  It has been my pleasure to be part of something that blesses so many each week.  This truly is a highlight of my week.

3/12/24 – The following is a note from a mother:

My adult daughter struggles with addiction and metal health issues.  She has  problems with functioning and frequently she and her boyfriend go hungry.  They recently started eating at CGK.  They love it and are so grateful for it.

Tonight she took me to dinner there.  She was so proud of herself; I think she felt like she was treating me.  And it was a treat!  The food was delicious and the atmosphere is so cheerful.

What an amazing place you have created.  So many people treat my daughter with contempt.  CGK treats her with dignity and kindness.  Thank you.

Note from Angela:  Because of all the we do together to battle food insecurity, please know that you are making a positive impact to make the world a better place.  Thank you all for being a blessing to so many people.

3/10/24 – Blogging is a new adventure, so I thought to begin I would share comments from both our guests at Community Garden Kitchen (CGK) and our volunteers.  My hope is that you, the reader, will have a better understanding of how CGK is making a positive difference in our community.

A volunteer noted:

A guest once explained that eating evening meals at CGK provides the means for him to pay for his prescriptions as well as copays to see his physician. He said this is such a gift for him.